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WWE Royal Rumble 1996 Match Time and Statistics

The 1996 Royal Rumble match lasted 58 minutes and 48 seconds (58m 48s). This match featured Vader’s WWF debut as well as Shawn Michaels eliminating his best friend Diesel in order to win the Royal Rumble match for a second consecutive year.

This text graphic captures much of the information discussed below. It gives time stamps for each superstar's arrival and exit from the match, as well as showing who the longest lasting superstars were as the match progressed. This graphic gives Jerry Lawler full credit for being “in the ring” even during the time when he was active but hiding underneath the ring.

This alternate text graphic is similar to the one above, except it is updated to reflect Lawler’s extended absence from the ring while he was still officially active in the match.

For comparison's sake, here are other versions of this graphic for Royal Rumble matches from 1988, 1992, 2003, 2007, 2011, and 2013.

Survival Times

My definition of the Survival Time for a superstar is the time that lapses between the point when a superstar steps foot into the ring and the time that the superstar's feet hit the floor to signal elimination. This does not include the time it takes for a superstar to make his way from the entrance ramp down to the actual ring.

The average superstar survival time for the 1996 Royal Rumble match was 12m 47s and the median survival time was 11m 00s. If the adjusted time for Lawler is used, then the average survival time falls to 11m 48s and the median drops to 10m 55s.

Here is the full list of survival times for all 30 superstars:

  • 48m 01s: Triple H
  • 39m 34s: Bob Holly
  • 36m 02s: Jerry Lawler (falls to 6m 40s when adjusted)
  • 26m 08s: Shawn Michaels
  • 20m 42s: Owen Hart
  • 19m 15s: Yokozuna
  • 17m 51s: Diesel
  • 17m 39s: 1-2-3 Kid
  • 16m 25s: Henry Godwinn
  • 15m 57s: Kama
  • 14m 39s: Jake Roberts
  • 12m 27s: Savio Vega
  • 12m 22s: Bob Backlund
  • 12m 14s: King Mabel
  • 11m 03s: Vader
  • 10m 57s: The Ringmaster
  • 10m 53s: Dory Funk Jr.
  • 7m 07s: Fatu
  • 7m 06s: Isaac Yankem, DDS
  • 4m 15s: Barry Horowitz
  • 4m 08s: Tatanka
  • 3m 40s: British Bulldog
  • 2m 58s: Doug Gilbert
  • 2m 49s: Takao Omori
  • 2m 35s: Marty Jannetty
  • 1m 55s: Hakushi
  • 1m 52s: Aldo Montoya
  • 1m 11s: Squat Team 1
  • 1m 10s: Duke Droese
  • 0m 24s: Squat Team 2

Jake Roberts entered the match and immediately draped his snake across Jerry Lawler’s body, which caused the King to panic and escape from the ring. He then hid underneath the ring for approximately 29m 22s before Shawn Michaels threw him back in the ring.

After Vader was eliminated, he lost his mind and annihilated everyone in the ring. He threw HBK, Triple H, and Bob Holly over the top rope and onto the outside floor, but these potential eliminations were not counted. Those men were all allowed to re-enter the ring after Vader left the scene. I did not detract any of this time on the outside from the survival time of these men. I essentially just treated it like they fell onto the floor through the middle or bottom rope, and kept their survival clock ticking.

Entrance Times

Here are the entrance times for each superstar involved. This is the amount of time that passed between an entrance buzzer going off and when the superstar finally stepped foot into the actual ring. The first two entrants (Triple H, Godwinn) are excluded because their entrances took place prior to the start of the match.

  • 2m 07s: Hakushi
  • 0m 40s: Squat Team 2
  • 0m 38s: King Mabel
  • 0m 30s: Owen Hart, Tatanka
  • 0m 27s: Yokozuna, Diesel, Vader
  • 0m 26s: Jerry Lawler
  • 0m 23s: Backlund, Jake Roberts, Dory Funk Jr.
  • 0m 22s: Fatu
  • 0m 17s: HBK, Ringmaster, Yankem
  • 0m 15s: Kama, Duke Droese
  • 0m 14s: 1-2-3 Kid
  • 0m 13s: Squat Team 1
  • 0m 12s: Barry Horowitz, British Bulldog
  • 0m 11s: Savio Vega, Doug Gilbert
  • 0m 10s: Takao Omori, Marty Jannetty
  • 0m 08s: Bob Holly
  • 0m 07s: Aldo Montoya

The buzzer for Hakushi’s entrance went off right around the time Vader was already eliminated but decided to go back in the ring and destroy everyone. Hakushi wisely remained on the outside of the ring for his entire waiting period, and didn’t enter the ring until Vader was gone. As a result, Hakushi’s entrance time ended up lasting 2m 07s, which is actually longer than his survival time.

These numbers add up to about 10m 45s of total entrance time out of the entire 58m 48s match. That means for about 18.3% of the match, at least one superstar was in the midst of his entrance. If Hakushi’s entrance time is magically reduced to 0m 40s (which is how long it took before he was first visible waiting ringside) then this percentage would fall to 16.0%.

Follow The Buzzers

Vince McMahon stated that there would be 2-minute waiting intervals between each entrant. How well did WWF stick to that claim? Here are the waiting times between all 28 buzzers, in chronological order:

  • 2m 02s: Buzzer 1 - Bob Backlund
  • 2m 02s: Buzzer 2 - Jerry Lawler
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 3 - Bob Holly
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 4 - King Mabel
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 5 - Jake Roberts
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 6 - Dory Funk Jr.
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 7 - Yokozuna
  • 2m 05s: Buzzer 8 - 1-2-3 Kid
  • 2m 03s: Buzzer 9 - Takao Omori
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 10 - Savio Vega
  • 2m 03s: Buzzer 11 - Vader
  • 2m 02s: Buzzer 12 - Doug Gilbert
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 13 - Squat Team 1
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 14 - Squat Team 2
  • 2m 02s: Buzzer 15 - Owen Hart
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 16 - Shawn Michaels
  • 2m 03s: Buzzer 17 - Hakushi
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 18 - Tatanka
  • 2m 04s: Buzzer 19 - Aldo Montoya
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 20 - Diesel
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 21 - Kama
  • 2m 02s: Buzzer 22 - The Ringmaster
  • 2m 02s: Buzzer 23 - Barry Horowitz
  • 2m 01s: Buzzer 24 - Fatu
  • 2m 02s: Buzzer 25 - Isaac Yankem, DDS
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 26 - Marty Jannetty
  • 2m 00s: Buzzer 27 - British Bulldog
  • 2m 04s: Buzzer 28 - Duke Droese

All 28 waiting periods fell within 5 seconds of the 2-minute goal.

The average waiting period was 2m 02s and the median time was 2m 01s.

In a perfectly timed match, the final buzzer (signaling Duke Droese’s entrance) would have gone off 56m 00s after the start of the match. In reality, this buzzer went off at 56m 42s.

I was surprised to see that Vader’s violent attack on everyone in the ring after his elimination didn’t blow up that waiting period far away from the 2-minute goal.

When the waiting periods are all this close to the 2-minute goal, there’s really no need to say anything else but congratulate WWF for getting it right.

Ring Crowdedness

I also wanted to take a look at how the ring filled up with superstars as the match progressed. If you add up each wrestler's survival time, it results in a total survival time of 6h 23m 19s. Given that the match lasted a total of 58m 48s, that comes out to an average of 6.5 competitors in the ring at any given second.

If the numbers are adjusted to account for the extended absence of Lawler while he was still officially in the match, that number drops to 6.0 competitors in the ring at any given second.

Here is a more accurate way to understand how many men were in the ring at any given time. This chart shows the total time that the ring was filled with an exact number of discrete superstars at once. This is using the unadjusted data.

1996 Royal Rumble Ring Crowdedness - Version 1

Active Wrestlers Total Time % of Match Time Cumulative %
Active Wrestlers Total Time % of Match Time Cumulative %
2 2m 30s 4.3 4.3
3 2m 18s 3.9 8.2
4 2m 05s 3.5 11.7
5 8m 06s 13.8 25.5
6 9m 21s 15.9 41.4
7 15m 14s 25.9 67.3
8 13m 47s 23.4 90.7
9 4m 55s 8.4 99.1
10 0m 32s 0.9 100.0

And here is the same chart, now adjusted for Lawler’s lengthy absence underneath the ring.

1996 Royal Rumble Ring Crowdedness - Version 2

Active Wrestlers Total Time % of Match Time Cumulative %
Active Wrestlers Total Time % of Match Time Cumulative %
2 2m 30s 4.3 4.3
3 2m 18s 3.9 8.2
4 4m 36s 7.8 16.0
5 6m 23s 10.9 26.8
6 16m 02s 27.3 54.1
7 20m 52s 35.5 89.6
8 5m 35s 9.5 99.1
9 0m 32s 0.9 100.0

The first thing that stands out is that the 1996 Royal Rumble match experienced its peak crowdedness in the first half of the match. Nobody was eliminated for the first 14m 47s of the match, until Bob Backlund was finally tossed out by Yokozuna. This means that 7 new entrants joined Triple H and Godwinn in the ring before someone was finally eliminated.

From that point on, the ring crowdedness remained very stable, never spiking up or falling low. Using the unadjusted data, the ring depth remained between 5 to 8 men for 79.0% of the match. This percentage rises to 83.1% using the adjusted data that doesn’t count Lawler underneath the ring.

The main point is that ring contained 5 or more men for the overwhelming majority of the match. So even though a max depth of 9 or 10 doesn’t seem impressive for a Royal Rumble match, this match still had a respectable overall level of crowdedness because it avoided extended periods of time with only 2 or 3 men in the ring.

End of the Match

Once Duke Droese entered the ring, the match essentially turned into a 6-man Battle Royal to the finish between HBK, Diesel, Kama, Yankem, Bulldog, and Droese.

This final segment of the 1996 Royal Rumble match lasted 1m 51s, and at that point Shawn Michaels emerged as the winner of the match. The final segment of the match was actually shorter than every individual waiting period, and it included 5 rapid-fire eliminations.

That's all you need to know about the timing of the 1996 Royal Rumble match. Which numbers do you find to be the most interesting?


Previous Royal Rumble analyses:

























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